Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Utley, Madson, and Gillick

"Well, I'm not the best athlete in the world, so it looks like I'm trying a lot harder. Someone like Jimmy is just so athletic it looks easier when he does it, but he's busting his butt. Same for Bobby Abreu. He sometimes gets a bad rap, but he's busting his butt and played hurt most of last year."

- Chase Utley from his appearance on the Morning Guys (Angelo Cataldi, Al Morganti, Rhea Hughes, etc.) on WIP this morning

Yet another reason to love Chase - as if anybody in this town needed it. Cataldi is a dope who frequently lambastes Abreu for a lack of hustle and emotion on the field. I can only imagine the look on his face after Chase Utley, a fairly knowledgeable if not unbiased source, made this astute (albeit the longstanding company line) observation. The very same observation that any Phillies fan who has watched over the past half decade has been making during that very same time period. Bobby Abreu is a very talented ballplayer who gets knocked in this town for all kinds of stupid, nitpicky things - many of which are just flat out untrue. I just don't get it and maybe I never will.

Today's Inquirer actually had two, count 'em two, stories about the Phillies. Jim Salisbury wrote a story about Ryan Madson's desire to start this season in the Phillies rotation. Phils manager Charlie Manuel would also like to see it happen. Phillies GM Pat Gillick is also in favor. Heck even Madson's buddy and teammate Brett Myers is on record saying that the Phillies should make the move (said it on Comcast television). So what's the holdup? Same old story of course - until the Phillies make a move to acquire a dependable late inning setup man, Madson is needed to serve as the team's eight inning bridge to Tom Gordon in the bullpen. I've said it before and I'll continue to say it until that fateful day when the Phillies finally call and ask for my advice - Ryan Madson needs to start for this team in order for the Phils to maximize the talent currently on the roster. Madson is a starter. Time for the Phils to wake up and use him as one.

The other Inquirer story was written by Phil Sheridan and comes across as a bit of a "In Gillick We Trust" kind of article. Sheridan wants us all to believe that Gillick's "frankness" will translate into wins on the field for this franchise. Needless to say, I'm not buying it (maybe it wasn't so needless after all, you dig?). The content of the article isn't particularly interesting, but a few quotes stand out. Gillick expressed what he considers to be a number starter publicly by saying,

"I'm talking about a guy with power, a guy who can stop a losing streak, who can strike people out."

Sounds good to me, Pat. It's nice to see Gillick has an understanding of how valuable a strikeout pitcher can be although it just makes the Ryan Franklin signing all the more baffling. Anyway, now that we know what Gillick's prerequisites of a number one starting pitcher are, how about finding one of these guys and getting him in red pinstripes? Pat? Any luck on the search thus far?

"They're available," Gillick said, declining to reveal exactly where or how one goes about finding a true No. 1 starter.

I'm not sure what this means exactly. I suppose it depends on one's definition of what a number one starter really is. The Phillies sure seem to think Eric Bedard, for example, is a number one starter; I do not happen to agree. Many Phils fans still see Barry Zito as a true number one starter; he is no such thing. There aren't that many true number one starting pitchers in this league. The teams that do have them aren't so quick to give them up. So maybe Gillick has his sights on a guy whom is not a sure fire number one in everybody's eyes (everybody basically equals me) such as Bedard or Zito. Or maybe Gillick knows something we don't (well this is absolutely true no matter the case, I think it's in his job description) about the availability of a guy we (again, we equals me) can all agree is a number one starter such as Mark Prior or Carlos Zambrano. Or maybe I'm reading way too far into a couple of quotes from a weak Inquirer puff piece.


Anonymous Dick Richards said...

I think it was Bill Conlin (not sure) who wrote, after Richie Ashburn's death, about why Richie had become a Philly hero. His main point being that Philadelphians applaud and value people who get the most out of what they have, even when they appear to have little. In other words -- "its the effort that counts above all" is a singularly Philly attitude. Effort is valued more highly than talent. When Pat Burrell struggled most fans gave him a pass because everyone knew he was putting in the effort.

So players like Abreu, Mike Schmidt, even Richie Allen, maybe Gary Maddox, for whom things seem to come very naturally and who appear to play "effortlessly", are perceived as not putting in the effort, as not getting all they can out of what they have.

9:46 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

Not really sure what else I can add to that - you said it far better than I could. Dead on analysis - really good stuff. Thanks.

9:55 PM  

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